AS WATER flows down the northern basin, the NSW Water Regulator is proactively monitoring the environmental flow to ensure it makes it down the Barwon River.
As much as 36 gigalitres of water is being released from Glenlyon and Copeton dams by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, to assist native fish and river ecosystems during the drought.
The "northern fish flow" is supported by a temporary pumping embargo in place on the Barwon-Darling from Mungundi to Tilpa.
Compliance officers from the NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) are conducting inspections of the releases from the Glenlyon and Copeton dams, as the water makes its way along the Dumaresq, Macintyre, Gwydir, Mehi and Barwon rivers.
While the two releases are expected to meet in the Barwon River at Collarenebri in the next few weeks, the exact distance the flows make it down the Barwon cannot be predicted due to the extremely dry conditions.
NRAR's chief regulatory officer Grant Barnes said compliance officers are undertaking proactive monitoring in the Border Rivers area as they shepherd this important environmental flow downstream.
"The onus is on the water user to ensure there is no restriction on their ability to pump before they do so," he said.
"Most water users follow the rules and meet requirements, however we won't hesitate to take action where we find instances of non-compliance."
More than 1000km of river habitat will benefit from the flow, which will support native fish struggling to survive in isolated waterholes.
Along with inspections, the flow will be monitored using satellite tracking.
"Compliance officers have their 'boots on the ground' and are supported by 'eyes in the sky' as we take advantage of a range of technologies to support our work," Mr Barnes said.
NRAR compliance officers were on the Mehi River last week as the head of the flow arrived, making its way into the dry riverbed and inspections will continue throughout the month.
The flows won't just benefit fish - they will also provide relief for river communities, contributing to town water and basic stock and domestic water needs.
They will enable some recreational river use and support fish species that are culturally significant to Aboriginal people such as Murray cod (guduu) and catfish (gaygay).
To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR hotline on 1800 633 362 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information about NRAR and what it does, visit www.industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar.
This article first appeared in the Northern Daily Leader